The Detroit Pistons have not made the playoffs in the three full seasons that Tom Gores has owned the franchise. Entering his fourth season as owner, Gores is unwilling to make any playoff predictions for his team.
At the Pistons’ Media Day last week, Gores hinted at his hopes saying,“I’d like to have a championship.”
Yet, he avoided any direct statements involving the playoffs.
As for a strategy on delivering the wins that would take his team to a championship, the owner who has often been criticized for not being invested enough in his team seems to be ready to take a more active role with the organization.
“[It’s] my job to create a stable environment so they have the best chance to succeed,” Gores said during media day.
That stable environment Gores referred to has been largely absent from Detroit since Gores bought the team in 2011. Since that June, the team has had five different head coaches in what will now be four seasons.
The Michigan State alum currently resides in Beverly Hills, California, and must manage the distance gap when dealing with his team. In the past, Gores relied on NBA veteran and long-term executive Joe Dumars to keep things steady with the team while he was away.
Since Dumars’ departure from the team, Gores has decided on Stan Van Gundy as his new man of destiny. With Van Gundy’s status as president of the organization, in addition to his head coach title, stability should accompany his presence in Detroit.
However, keeping the focus on Gores raises a key question as to how important an NBA owner’s presence is to a team. Last season saw the LA Clippers fold in the playoffs underneath the weight of owner Donald Sterling’s scandals. But it also saw the Clippers, under Doc Rivers’ and Chris Paul’s leadership, unite off the court without the full support of its owner.
This is not to claim that Gores is expressing anything more than superstitious caution when talking about a perennial bottom eight team’s playoff chances, but rather to portray the fact that an owner is not always as relevant to the team as the people he hires to run it.
If Gores wants to avoid playoff predictions, he has reason. He is in a position to defend his organization while many analysts, including his head coach’s brother, Jeff Van Gundy, doubt the Pistons express rebuild potential.
Already this preseason, the Pistons are off to a precarious 2-0 start, with victories against the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.